NEW YORK—Argentina’s Omar Narvaez oozed with confidence when he finally spoke Wednesday about his world championship fight with Filipino titleholder Jr.
Narvaez said he’s going to pull off a stunning upset when he battles Donaire, the WBO and WBC bantamweight champ, on Oct. 22, at the Theatre of the Madison Square Garden.
“He is still young. I have the experience, I have been in this situation many times,” the 36-year-old Narvaez told a Top Rank Promotions writer.
Fighting for the first time on United States soil and at 118 pounds, he said that his relative obscurity from media’s prying eyes will work to his advantage.
“No one knows me here,” added the five-foot-3 Narvaez, a southpaw. “On Saturday you will know me. I will go home with his belts.”
Donaire saw Narvaez at the hotel lobby while waiting for the bus that would take him to the Philippine Consulate for a courtesy call and remarked that the challenger’s “got a big head.”
“That’s good, bigger target,” Donaire jokingly told his trainer Robert Garcia. The 5-foot-7 Donaire, acknowledged as the quicker, more powerful puncher of the two combatants, said he is upbeat about his chances because he holds one very big edge.
“I’m the smarter boxer,” he said.
Though he trained during his media workout at nearby Kingsway Gym, Donaire also buckled down to work late Tuesday and jogged until 11 p.m. He said he’s feeling sharp because he can now recuperate faster than before.
He credited it to a recovery cocktail prepared by his controversial strength and conditioning coach Victor Conte.
“It’s a no-calorie protein shake which makes recovery faster,” the Filipino Flash said. “Boxing is 50 percent training and 50 percent recovery because the body gets drained by too much work.”
At the Philippine Consulate here, Donaire received words of encouragement from staff and a coffeetable book from Consul General Mario de Leon.
“Your impressive record as a three-division world champion earned you legions of fans here in the US, the Philippines and in many parts of the world,” De Leon told Donaire. “You serve as an inspiration not only to aspiring boxers in the Philippines but also to Filipino-American athletes.”
Donaire also fielded questions from the US-based reporters where he revealed that he was bullied when he was a kid.
“I get bullied in school and go home crying because I was that small, frail kid,” he said. “I had asthma and always got sick. I’m fortunate to come to the US, eat food. And I’m very blessed to be where I am right now.”
Donaire said he plans to move up in weight and fight three times next year, including one, hopefully, at the 16,000-seater SM arena being constructed at the Mall of Asia in Pasay.
But before that, Donaire and wife Rachel are set to marry in church on Nov. 11 in Manila.
“It’s crazy, many things are happening,” said Rachel, whose paternal grandmother Ines passed away last Oct. 13. “I’m super excited over this fight. But we’ve been dealing with things one at a time.”
Rachel also clarified that her involvement in Team Donaire is something Nonito himself wanted.
“Cameron Dunkin (Donaire’s manager) does the fight contract, the opponents,” said Rachel. “All I ever do is schedule interviews like when you call, I’ll make sure it’s appropriate for him. That he’s not sleeping or not cranky. I also help with his website and e-mails. But Twitter, he does it by himself.”
Rachel, a former US and Philippine taekwondo national team member, said she doesn’t want to get involved in her husband’s career, but Nonito “believes in my ability to do it and he wants me in his team.”
“As far as my involvement, it’s only because of the fact that I was also a fighter,” she said. “I understand what he needs. A lot of women out there can’t understand it. They could try but they can’t, unless she’s been there and cut weight and get hit. I know what it’s like to cut weight and get hit.”
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